Nationalist sentiment hype urged to be controlled as Philippines may join Vietnam in banning Barbie over China’s nine-dash line scene
Published: Jul 07, 2023 12:22 AM
Photo: Screenshot from website

Photo: Screenshot from website

Relevant parties should control domestic hype and nationalist sentiment, eliminate external interference, and create conditions for peace and stability in the South China Sea, Chinese experts said, after some Philippine senators called for a ban on the US' fantasy film Barbie over a scene featuring a world map showing China's Nine-Dash Line in the South China Sea. 

Francis Tolentino, vice-chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in the Philippines, said recently that the appearance of China's Nine-Dash Line in the film "denigrates Philippine sovereignty," and therefore the film should be banned by Manila's film regulator. 

Some other senators in the Philippines demanded that local cinemas include an explicit disclaimer that the nine-dash line is "a figment of China's imagination," or at least "edit out" the scene as a necessary compromise, according to media reports. 

Barbie is expected to hit the screens in the Philippines on July 19. 

The incident came after Vietnam on Monday announced it would ban Barbie for the same reason claimed by Philippines senators. They barred Abominable in 2019 and the 2022 filmed Uncharted for the same reason as well, according to CNBC.  

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning remarked on Tuesday that "China's position on the South China Sea issue is clear and consistent. Relevant countries should not link the South China Sea issue with normal cultural exchanges." 

On the South China Sea, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has repeatedly made it clear that China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests are solidly grounded in history and law. And China always adheres to peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea through negotiation and consultation on the basis of respecting historical facts and in accordance with international law.  

The nationalist sentiment of regional countries has shown a gradually growing trend when it comes to the South China Sea in recent years, which comes from biased understanding of the issue in the Western media and anti-China politicians, Chen Xiangmiao, director of the World Navy Research Center at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Echoing Chen, Gu Xiaosong, dean of the ASEAN Research Institute of Hainan Tropical Ocean University, said that relevant countries need to properly control domestic nationalist sentiment in order to create a good atmosphere, as well as conditions for promoting the conclusion of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, which is conducive to the interests of countries in the region.

In fact, progress has been made in the consultations on the COC in the South China Sea. On May 17, China and ASEAN countries held the 20th Senior Officials' Meeting on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea in Ha Long city, Vietnam. All parties spoke highly of the positive progress achieved in the consultations, and agreed to finish the second reading of the draft negotiating text within the year. 

On May 11, Philippine President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos also stressed the need to ensure peace in the region, urging relevant countries to speed up the forging of a COC in the South China Sea, Xinhua News Agency reported.  

The COC consultation itself is crucial for China and ASEAN countries to handle maritime differences, and there is consensus at the senior official level, Chen said.

The essence of the COC consultation is to seek better crisis management and forge mutual trust. China and ASEAN countries need to meet each other halfway and accelerate the progress of the COC, the expert noted.